The city is not a recent development. The social organization was complex, the economy, commercial and the political practise largely democratic. But it is significant that the phenomenon of such conglomerations was not totally occidental in occurrence. The Indus valley was also urban so were the Greek civilization. These cities flourished, languished and eventually died. Developing societies, due to necessary division of labour gave birth to new cities. The polis developed into the metropolis and now we are in an age when mega polis develops out of cities.
Life in such urban set ups are fundamentally different from that is the rural village. In cities, the degree of social control is significantly lower because formal establishments attempt to take over the functions of informal social control. Villages are closely knit, everyone knows everyone else and the deviance of any member causes significantly impact and it is immediately noticed and remedied either by punishment or encouragement to socialise properly. The urban composition, being large and variegated, often fails to notice this deviance which grows into mental illness or crime. It is at this stage that law-enforcing or psychiatric agencies have to intervene.
In a city, there are huge numbers of people living in limited physical space. Ties develop on economic, professional or political fronts. Kinship ties loosen, because schools and peer-groups take over the function of the family as socialising agents. Thus, the individual is more prone to the feeling of emotional isolation. He is not as firmly integrated into the social system and may deviate from it with fewer scruples than in a closely knit village. Crime rates, social problems of divorce and drinking are higher in cities than in rural social formation.
The division of labour in a city is far more complex when compared to a village. A village has a simple occupational pattern based on single primary profession with a few secondary occupations to provide necessary services. Thus, agriculture being the primary profession is supported by a network of secondary professions like carpentry or smithy. But a city comprises not only of many primary occupations but also a profusion of secondary and tertiary professions. We have industrial workers, manufacturers, teachers, lawyers, doctors and engineers. This complex organization is essential but it may also lead to a feeling of rootless-ness. Another unfortunate aspect of the urban scene is the growth of slums where many are forced to live because of the high cost of living.
All this should not suggest that life in a crowded city is unreservedly dismal. The overall picture is not totally bleak. If this were so, the natural gravitation of man would be towards a village and not towards a city. The high rate of urbanization which is amply proved by census statistics would be totally unjustified.
Opportunities for social development, in addition to social mobility are higher in a city. Educational opportunities and institutions are more easily attainable in cities. A girl can train herself to become a business executive and not cause surprise. Services are better organized in cities.
In conclusion it has to be stated that life in a city is fraught with dangers and more prone to dehumanization of man, crime rate and degree and prevalence of mental illness is higher. Isolation, alienation and impersonal existence are prevalent to a higher degree. But a city also has greater social mobility, educational and professional opportunities than a village. Life in a city is more comfortable than in a village. It rests with man to reduce the evils of urban life and develop its positive features.